November 5, 2012

Intentional Fallacy

This week my discussion leading word did not exactly get explained like I wish it would, so I decided to dedicate this weekly discussion blog post to my word, intentional fallacy. The Bedford Glossary defines intentional fallacy to refer to the practice of basing interpretations of the expressed or implied intentions of authors, a practice they judged to be erroneous. Wimsatt and Beardsley argued that, "the design or intention of the author is neither available nor desirable as a standard for judging the success of a work of literary art." In literary criticism, addresses the assumption that the meaning intended by the author of a literary work. Basing an assessment of a work on the author's intention rather than on one's response to the actual work.


Stephen Craun said...

Is it that you don't undestand what the theory is suppose to signify? Maybe i can help. It seems to me that the intentional fallacy is meant to emphasize the errors of evaluating a literary text based solely upon the stated or perceived motives or epistemological factors associated with the genre or publication of the work, or by the meanings we derive from the author's use of the language.If you remember the theory of the form and function of language that Locke and derrida tried to encompass, then you'll be able to understand this easily. The internalized systems by which we attribute the meanings to the forms of words aren't universal, because they're based upon subjective experienes in the natural world, and therefore even more complex ideas and concepts become all the more vague when we attempt to communicate them through written words.
Think about "The Rhetoric of Hitler's "Battle"", and how Hitler was able to manipulate the common values held by the german public through his manipulation of words. Hitler used language in "mein kampf" to convey the belief that the aryan race was superior and they were justified in eradicating the "jewish devil" because they were chosen by "god". If we were subjected to the epistemological constraints of German society in the 1930's, then it is reasonable to assume that we might have fallen victim to the assumption that hitler really was motived "in the name of god" to rid us of the "jewish problem" That's just one prominent example i thought of on how assuming the intentions of the author can deviate from the actual meaning of the author

Katie Latchford said...

I can see where you're going here but not quite sure what you're really getting at. I think the quote you brought up by Weismatt and Beardsley means that people are going to come up with their own interpretations regardless of the writer's, which goes along with what intentional fallacy does. People will act on misinformed interpretations, which they will come up with without always knowing what the writer's real intentions are. I agree with what stephen said above, with the examples from Hitler and having misinformed and clearly wrong intentions, which will be percieved and judged by other people.

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